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Teen Driver Education: Failing Grade, According to AutoWeek

With some 5,500 teen deaths annually, AutoWeek magazine devotes Back-to-School special issue to keep kids safe

DETROIT, Sept. 5 -- As teens spend more time loading MP3 players than with formal drivers' training programs, AutoWeek's September 4 issue draws attention to the sad state of driver education in America.

Imagine: For the 41 months of the war in Iraq, there have been approximately 2,600 lives lost. In that same period, more than 22,000 teens, aged 15 - 19, have died on U.S. roads and in no less violent a manner.

That equates to 5,500 annual teen deaths in car crashes, and 300,000 injuries per year.

It is particularly tough for young, male drivers. Male teens are 33 percent more likely than females to die in a motor vehicle crash. They also report driving after drinking at a higher rate than their female counterparts (15 percent vs. 9 percent). Young men are also less likely to wear a seatbelt (22 percent vs. 15 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"We can point to car companies and say they should do more," said Dutch Mandel, editor and associate publisher, AutoWeek. "We can point to legislation, and say it isn't strict enough. We should point to ourselves and say we're failing our kids. Car safety starts with the right attitude and with proper training."

Phil Berardelli offers the following tips for parents in his AutoWeek article, "Parental Responsibility is Critical." Berardelli is author of Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens.

  1.  Take control -- parents must decide when their teen is ready
  2.  Take the time -- teens need at least 100 hours behind the wheel
  3.  Don't hurry -- there is no specific age when he or she must begin
  4.  Don't quit early -- continue instruction even after license is granted
  5.  Enjoy this process -- your child deserves the best

Marquita Bedway, Ph.D., sheds light on teens driving with ADHD, something that afflicts between five and eight percent of all teenagers. She offers tips on how to recognize the symptoms, how to address them with your teen, how to create a driver's contract with your teen and the role of medication and its use.

The issue looks at many options available to caring parents, including traditional drivers' education programs, professional performance driving schools that teach accident-avoidance techniques and effective ways to use the latest technologies, and teen driving programs offered by the automakers. It also spells out the pros and cons to graduated driving license (GDL) programs which require more on-the-road training with an extended learner's permit.

AutoWeek offers tips on "What's the Right Car" for teens to drive by using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's ratings. There is also a story on how to get a break on high teen car insurance rates. A complete list of reference materials is found on .

About AutoWeek

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